Houston — The largest battle reenactment in the state is the centerpiece of the admission-free San Jacinto Day Festival, to be held on Saturday, April 22, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the grounds surrounding the San Jacinto Monument. The reenactment recreates the events leading up to Texas winning its independence from Mexico 181 years ago at the decisive Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836
On Saturday, reenactors from across the state become figures in Texas history, for the day. Visitors can wander freely among the Mexican and Texian camps to learn what the soldiers and their families were doing prior to the battle in 1836. At 3 p.m., the official (and historically accurate!) reenactment of the Battle of San Jacinto begins. With hundreds of history reenactors, this reenactment—complete with cannons, horses and pyrotechnics—is the largest in the southwest United States.
Sponsored by the San Jacinto Museum of History Association, the festival is a full day of entertainment, vendors, food, family activities, cultural exhibits, games and fun set amidst living history: music and dancing on three stages featuring country-western bands, flamenco dancers, Native American presentations, square dancers and much more; 15+ food vendors; make-and-take activities and crafts for children; children’s train; petting zoo; medicine wagon show; birds of prey; weavers, spinners, blacksmiths and other demonstrators; and dozens of unique hand-crafted items for sale. All festival activities are updated regularly on the San Jacinto Museum of History website at www.sanjacinto-museum.org.
PARKING will be significantly closer this year. There will be several lots along Independence Parkway open for the general public. Disabled parking is available at the Battleship Texas parking lot (disabled placard or license plate required) at 3523 Independence Pkwy, La Porte, TX 77571. Only VIPs and Media with passes will be allowed to park at the Monument. A map of parking lots will be posted as event comes closer. Free shuttles will be running between the lots and the festival from 9:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
For the convenience of out of town guests, hotels in the neighboring city of Deer Park are offering discounted lodging during the event. Visit visit www.deerparktx.org/tourism for links to each of the hotel properties such as the Hampton Inn. Mention the Stay in Deer Park program for associated discount offers.
“We are so proud to continue to present this festival with free admission, free shuttles and free parking, which would not be possible without our presenting sponsor H-E-B, as well as The Dow Chemical Company, Pasadena Strawberry Festival, City of Deer Park, City of La Porte and LyondellBasell,” says Larry Spasic, San Jacinto Museum of History President. “Just as important are our partners who help us coordinate this event, including the City of La Porte, TPWD, the volunteers from San Jacinto College and Deer Park ISD, Clean Harbors, La Porte EMS and Hampton Inn Deer Park.”
The San Jacinto Monument is open all day year round except for Thanksgiving Day, and December 24th and 25th. Visitors can ride the elevator to the top for a panoramic view of the festivities, explore the special exhibit, watch a Texas history movie and tour the hundreds of museum pieces on display. A prized Tryon flintlock muzzle-loaded musket from 1816 is on loan from native Texan Tom O’Neal, whose great, great, great, grandfather Samuel Watkins fought in the Republic of Texas army. The musket will be on display for free until the end of 2021; there are as few as seven of this type of musket documented in the country.
There are modest admission fees for the elevator ride, movie and the special exhibit entitled “A Destined Conflict: The U.S. – Mexican War,” located inside the Monument. For more information, the public may visit www.sanjacinto-museum.org and Facebook, or call 281-479-2421.
The event is coordinated by the San Jacinto Museum of History Association with the assistance of Texas Parks & Wildlife and the San Jacinto Volunteers reenactors.
Entertainment and educational activities
- Aaron Einhouse will headline the main stage. This Austin, Texas native is a singer, songwriter that has built a loyal following touring around the country playing country western music. His fourth album, It Ain’t Pretty was just released and is his most imaginative and literary music to date.
- Fred Rusk & the Zydeco Hi-Steppers will perform on the main stage. This band has been serving the Houston/Louisiana and surrounding areas for 12 years and consist of 5 faithful Zydeco musicians that collaborate to bring the unique sound of a Funky Cajun-French gumbo.
- Danza Azteca Taxcayolotl will perform a version of a Danza Azteca ceremony with a dozen dancers from around Texas dressed in colorful regalia, wearing headdress with beautiful long feathers, and utilizing natural instruments to compose traditional rhythms for ceremonial dancing. Through dance steps and drum beats, the dancers will be honor generations of indigenous traditions.
- Last Chance Forever, The Birds of Prey Conservancy will present interactive demonstrations of magnificent birds including hawks, owls, eagles, falcons and vultures.
- Texas Snakes is a fun and hands-on educational show of many different species of non-venomous indigenous snakes of Texas for the children to view and touch. Emphasis is on teaching about the environment and how reptiles provide their part for the balance of nature.
- Houston School of Irish Music prides itself on giving students a fun and enriching environment to play traditional Irish music. The school is comprised of the North Texas School of Irish Music, with branches in Allen, TX and Murphy, TX, and the Houston School of Irish Music.
- Bruce Manners is an interactive show that combines family friendly stand-up comedy with world class juggling and is best described as Stand-up Juggling. As a strolling or “atmosphere” entertainer, Bruce presents world class 3 ball juggling and amazing balance tricks while engaging the crowd in a relaxed and unobtrusive manner.
- Camel Rides will be available for a small fee. Camels played an important role in Texas history when the state hosted the U.S. Army’s camel experiment, a short-lived project that used camels to ferry supplies across west Texas and the Great American Desert from 1856 to 1866.
- Gilbert Hernandez is a reenactor portraying his great grandfather, Santiago Tafolla. Tafolla was a Hispanic pioneer in Texas and part of the Texas Camel Experiment as well as the only known Hispanic in Texas to have memoirs during the Civil War. His presentations consist of the story of the Texas Camel Connection, working with the camels as a Calvary soldier and a Government employee all during the 1850s and 60s.
- Mixteco Ballet Folklorico provides Houston area youth with cultural activities that preserve Mexican customs, traditions and culture through the art of music and dance.
- Red Chanuska
- J.R. “Jack” Edmondson is a celebrated historian, author, and reenactor. An alumni of the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Christian University, he is best known for his educational portrayal of the illustrious General Sam Houston.
- Charles Lara aka Black Beaver will reenact a Delaware Blanket Trader to teach festival goers about the Texas of the 1800s.
- Dan Barth will use his Medicine Show Wagon to tell the tales of special 19th century cure-all elixirs, and entertain with a little magic.
- Irish Dancers from the Tew Academy of Irish Dance will share the thrilling tradition of Irish step dancing, a timeless art form characterized by rapid movements and remarkable body control.
- Exhibit of TPWD’s popular Operation Game Thief, its wildlife crime-stoppers program offering rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction for a wildlife crime. Begun in 1981 as a result of laws passed by the 67th Legislature to help curtail poaching, the program is highly successful.
- North Harris County Dulcimer Society will provide musical entertainment throughout the day.
- Blacksmiths, weavers, spinners and other demonstrators—including the popular Baytown Area Quilt Guild--will give visitors a full sense of how life was in the early 1800s. Sutlers (civilians who sold provisions to military posts) will be on hand to sell or show their wares.
- Texas Parks & Wildlife Department will offer archery classes for young people.
- Visitors can also view the restored marshlands and look for otters, great blue herons, osprey, mottled ducks and American avocets. The marsh is historically important because it barred the escape of many of General Santa Anna's troops during the 1836 battle.
- Representatives of the San Jacinto Descendants, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the Sons of the Republic of Texas, the Texas General Land Office and the Texas Independence Trail Region will be on hand to share their history.
- Texas Independence Square Dancers—square dancers from various groups throughout Texas—will demonstrate square dancing and give lessons.
- Visitors can browse through the vendor area to admire unique hand-crafted items, Texas products and history-related items.
The Children's Area—sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company and Deer Park ISD—includes:
- A 55' train complete with train whistle and Texan and American flags.
- Make-and-take history activities and crafts created and overseen by Gifted/Talented specialists from Deer Park ISD.
- Marsha's Petting Zoo with sheep, goats and other friendly small animals.